Tag Archives: seafood

Salmon in a Soy-Maple-Ginger-Garlic Glaze: Tantalizing Molecular Destiny

Are you aware of the chemical aspects of the culinary world? I am not referring to the molecular gastronomy that is all is the rage, but rather the actual chemistry of cuisine.  Chemistry is essential to the molecular style of gastronomic palaces, such as Spain’s El Bulli, WD-50 in NYC, or Alinea in Chicago, but we can all benefit from learning which foods (and wines, too) pair well together, based on their chemical composition.

I was listening to a radio program on the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, for you non-Canucks out there), featuring a sommelier from Québec,  François Chartier.  M. Chartier has written a book called, Papilles et Molécules, which has come out now in English, Tastebuds and Molecules (http://www.francoischartier.ca/english).  The show was on molecular structures, which makes certain foods natural companions, based on their chemical composition.

As ginger is a must for this post, Jinja must check out a hebe in bloom on the deck.

One example M. Chartier gave was the pair of soy sauce and maple syrup.  As a Canadian, I hope you know that I mean only the pure stuff, and never would dare to consider the gloppy kind in a plastic squeeze bottle, such as the corn-syrup-artificially-flavoured-Mrs.-You-Probably-Know-Who brand.  Apparently,  maple and soy sauce are chemical cosmic twins!  Who knew?

The molecular twinning, of course, works for food with wine (mint and sauvignon blanc, for instance) as much as it does for expected food pairings (lamb and thyme) in addition to more unusual combinations  (raspberries are chemically counterparts of nori, or seaweed, which surprised me).  It is a fascinating chemical explanation why certain foods do go well together naturally, even those from places of origin, e.g., maple syrup tends to be from areas which did not traditionally grow soy beans and make soy sauce.  So the locavore argument does not get much of boost from this dish.

For the recipe… Continue reading

Qualicum Sea Scallops in Brown Butter & Hazelnuts: Coquilles St. Jacques au beurre noisette et aux noisettes

What theme would you choose for creating a meal?  I always liked the idea of using coffee, chocolate, or cherries (or other items which might not start with “c”) in every course for a fun dinner party.

Returning on the Saturday morning ferry from Vancouver, I had been “off-island”, as they say here, for about 11 days.  I had not expected to see the Fishery Afloat.  This seafood boat docks right near the ferry terminal on Saturdays from late May through September.  The Fishery Afloat is based on the much bigger, Salt Spring Island, and it features – almost exclusively – local seafood from the Pacific.  After a long and difficult trip, I was happy to see the boat for the first time, buy some halibut, and discover they had the large Qualicum Beach sea scallops (many of which are larger than a golf ball).  They are quite a treat.

So our proximity to Qualicum Beach, across the Strait along Vancouver Island, made me think of creating a sort of 100-mile-diet dish.  Having made scallops in butter with hazelnut, I thought it would be good to add the twist of brown butter.  The title I gave the dish is is also a bit of a play-on-words or jeux de mots, in French, “Coquilles St. Jacques au beurre noisette et aux noisettes.”  Just to clear up confusion wrought by a Canadian celebrity chef, who once stated incorrectly that brown butter originally was related to hazelnuts as an ingredient in making the butter.  It decidedly is not.  The colour is nut-brown and the flavour may be nutty, but beurre noisette has nothing to do with hazelnuts per se.  Just in case you were wondering….

For the dish and the recipe… Continue reading